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Bruckner: Symphonies 6 & 7

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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  • Orchestra: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
  • Conductor: Bernard Haitink
  • Composer: Anton Bruckner
  • Audio CD (13 Jan. 2003)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Philips
  • ASIN: B00007J4WE
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 502,181 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
1
30
15:16
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2
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17:18
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3
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7:50
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4
30
13:26
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Disc 2
1
30
18:13
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2
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20:59
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3
30
9:21
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4
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11:47
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I am deliberately restricting this review to head to head comparisons with Karajan/BPO from 1980 on DG, as with this Haitink analogue, and the excellent digital Sawallisch/Bavarian SO from 1982 on Orfeo. These comments are also restricted to the first movement of Bruckner's No 6.

The Haitink performance and the recording though dating somewhat earlier from 1970 are truely magnificent. Philips as a classical label were on top form in the 1960s. The Concertgebouw then, possibly more so then, was among the top three symphony orchestras in the world. The strings are superior across the board to both the playing of the Bavarians and Berliners. While the instrumentals, in the winds and brass are also confident and precise. Haitink and his players have the measure of this music and its grand architecture. As it unfolds across this vast movement, the rise and fall, both in volume and emotionally, is superbly shaped and controlled by Haitink. There is a feeling of unstoppable drive and energy in the music, simply absent from other accounts, and towards the end a great note of inevitability in the conclusion which because it is missing elsewhere robs the competition of complete satisfaction.

Haitink knows what this music is all about, his players likewise, and they know how to deliver it superbly.

But what use is that without a recording team equal to the performance? Luckily, on this occasion at least, Philips had such a team. A side note on this is that this record comes from the era, the late 60s of the great independent classical labels: Decca, fuelled by its easy listening Mantovani and Rolling Stone receipts; DG the cultural arm of Siemens industrial; likewise Philips a division of the world's largest electronics corporation.
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Format: Audio CD
Bernard Haitink has recorded Bruckner's symphonies several times with the Concertgebouw with listeners having their personal favorites. This present set contains Haitink's first recording of the 6th (1970) and 7th (1966). These are among my favorite performances of these 2 works. Having only been available in a box set over the last few years I have not heard them in some 20 years. Memory serves well and the performances sound as fine as ever. One of the hallmarks of these performances is Haitink's ability to make the works flow. Like Giulini he avoids the jerky stop and start that to me mar many performances. In his hands the Bruckner luftpause comes quite naturally and not like a rear end collision. The cathedral of sound effect that often mark Bruckner's climaxes are also finely structured. I recall the original lp's had a slightly distant sound but the cd remastering is quite clear and full. Good to hear an old friend sounding so good after 30 years.
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... is what Haitink seems to be saying in these two performances. There are more "spiritual" readings available, readings with a greater sense of the numinous; but these recordings give you Bruckner unvarnished, gloriously played, clearly recorded, fiery and true. I find them enormously refreshing.

Oh ...and they are really great if YOU ARE IN A HURRY!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9285f354) out of 5 stars 3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9217e6d8) out of 5 stars Haitink's earliest recordings of these Bruckner symphonies 19 Mar. 2004
By John Kwok - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Bernard Haitink's earliest recordings of Bruckner's 6th and 7th symphonies are still among the finest available. Athough it is a shame that Philips did not choose to enhance the sound using the latest state-of-the-art digital image-bit remastering, the sound quality is still fine. To his credit Haitink's recordings and performances of these symphonies have been among his finest, demonstrating his strong affinity for Bruckner's scores. His interpretrations have emphasized well both the sonic cathedral aspects of these scores while adhering strictly to steady tempi, without sudden pauses which characterize other interpretations. Of the two recordings, my favorite has to be that of the 7th symphony, which was recorded back in 1966 (The 6th dates from 1970). Fans of Bernard Haitink, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Bruckner will not be disappointed with these fine performances.
4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9217e738) out of 5 stars Might turn you off at first listening 27 May 2004
By ken yong - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
For seasoned listeners of Bruckner's symphonies, Haitink's approach might turn you off at first. The Sixth symphony, the most problematic and difficult to perform of all Bruckner's works is a mix bag here. The first movement is one big obstacle because of it's structure. Although I did not own the score, I can sense this is a tricky movement where typical of Bruckner the beginning of the movement is steady until later on, the rhythmic patterns, especially the strings towards the coda gets complicated. The only safe way is to perform this movement in a steady moderato speed at least. Here, Haitink browses through this movement and most parts are incohorent. Surprisingly, the second movement made you forget the way Haitink apparently trivialises the previous Maestoso. I am reminded of Mahler here by the way the strings of Concertgebouw plays here. This is the highlight of this CD set and I always have love Haitink for his way of handling slow movements. The third movement is fine, especially the way the horns sound as if played off-stage like in Wagner operas at one point. Haitink controls the last movement perfectly, where it is often commented that particular movement sounds isolated from this symphony.
The Seventh symphony can also turn off Brucknerians used to the first movement accustomed to slow and meditative tempos. We must note however that Bruckner wrote the movement as "Allegro Moderato" and instead of a spiritually medititive movement reminiscent of the Eighth symphony's first movement, the speed here highlights the lyrical aspect of Bruckner. Adagio is fine, nothing spellbounding, but the third and last movements hits the mark I don't find right in other recordings I hear. I always skip the Finale because it is my least favorite Bruckner movement, but I think Haitink brings out the details and avoid the unnecessary ritards I hear when there's a brass fanfare passage played in minor.
There are hits and misses here and I cannot recommend this recording unless you haven't got a Bruckner Sixth and Seventh yet, or you're a Haitink fan or a Bruckner completist. Also, for price of one middle-priced CD, it is an interesting grab.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9218060c) out of 5 stars Overall better than Karajan or even Sawallisch 26 Jan. 2014
By david - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I am deliberately restricting this review to head to head comparisons with Karajan/BPO from 1980 on DG, as with this Haitink analogue, and the excellent digital Sawallisch/Bavarian SO from 1982 on Orfeo. These comments are also restricted to the first movement of Bruckner's No 6.

The Haitink performance and the recording though dating somewhat earlier from 1970 are truely magnificent. Philips as a classical label were on top form in the 1960s. The Concertgebouw then, possibly more so then, was among the top three symphony orchestras in the world. The strings are superior across the board to both the playing of the Bavarians and Berliners. While the instrumentals, in the winds and brass are also confident and precise. Haitink and his players have the measure of this music and its grand architecture. As it unfolds across this vast movement, the rise and fall, both in volume and emotionally, is superbly shaped and controlled by Haitink. There is a feeling of unstoppable drive and energy in the music, simply absent from other accounts, and towards the end a great note of inevitability in the conclusion which because it is missing elsewhere robs the competition of complete satisfaction.

Haitink knows what this music is all about, his players likewise, and they know how to deliver it superbly.

But what use is that without a recording team equal to the performance? Luckily, on this occasion at least, Philips had such a team. A side note on this is that this record comes from the era, the late 60s of the great independent classical labels: Decca, fuelled by its easy listening Mantovani and Rolling Stone receipts; DG the cultural arm of Siemens industrial; likewise Philips a division of the world's largest electronics corporation. A side note also that this recording is probably wholly valve based (Philips being the major developer of valve technology in Europe since the 1930s) which accounts for the characteristic warmth of the sound which even digital remastering for CD can't disguise.

Within less than ten years of the recording date of 1969 all that would change. DG and Philips would merge into Polydor. Vinyl as a quality product would start to erode as MBAs and accountants took full control. Transistors replaced valves facilitating a more complex audio recording process.

So the Haitink is a relic. But it works BECAUSE of that:

1. The incomparable Concertgebouw concert hall acoustic adds to the music
2. Philips provides a suitably wide soundstage, a simple but effective old school arrangement of left, centre and right which is rock steady throughout, whereas the Karajan in particular is congested and suffers from over-miking and a far too close up aural picture
3. The overall sound quality captured by Philips is superior and more even across different sections of the orchestra
4. Because the soundstage is set back by the ideal 10 rows as you would in the sweet spot of a live concert, Philips literally gives you the best seat in the house - the "house" being the Concertgebouw! Therefore the orchestral sound is beautifully cohesive.

In life generally I have no time for the "good old days". They never existed. But in the classical recording industry: from then, published in 1970, to what we have today, there is some element of truth in the saying.

Certainly this Bruckner 6 from Haitink and Amsterdam is an excellent example of that.

It is thrilling.
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